EASTBOURNE faces a race against time to cash in on the nearby new national park by nabbing the title of Gateway to the South Downs before someone else does.
The South Downs National Park became England’s newest national park when it was officially designated as such in April this year.
It covers an area of 628 square miles and stretches all the way from The Sunshine Coast here in East Sussex, through West Sussex and Hampshire to Winchester.
Now local councillors are urging Eastbourne Borough Council to adopt the gateway tag before Winchester has the same idea.
Speaking at a meeting last week, council leader David Tutt said, “We have a good opportunity with the South Downs because we are the gateway. We need to capitalise on that.”
And he got support from across the town hall chamber. Conservative Councillor David Elkin said, “I am not sure what the proof is that we are the gateway but I agree.
“We should make it soon before someone else thinks to do the same.”
National parks elsewhere in the country have helped swell the coffers of nearby towns, with tourists flocking to hotels and bed and breakfasts in order to enjoy the walks and picturesque views on offer in the countryside.
And the hope is that, if Eastbourne can establish itself as the natural entrance to the South Downs, the town could be welcoming thousands of ramblers and outdoor types all year round to complement the existing seasonal foreign student and tourist trade.
The South Downs National Park has much to offer – with, some would argue, more diversity than found in similar reservations elsewhere.
As well as its celebrated chalk downland landscape which take in the iconic white cliff tops of Beachy Head, it also boasts heavily wooded areas and sandstone and clay hills and vales.